Supporting Elementary Education In-Service Teachers' Proficiency in Planning STEM-Centric Lessons

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to explore the McDaniel College Elementary STEM Instructional Leader (ESIL) pilot cohort's ability to proficiently plan lessons that incorporated the Maryland State STEM Standards of Practice (SOP), targeting integration of STEM content, inquiry learning, students' abilities to collaborate as a STEM team and students' strategic application of technology. Data collection, in the form of reviewing and analyzing study participants' lesson plans and self-reflections, was completed by three independent assessors. The researcher examined the interrater reliability among the three assessors using the Fleiss' kappa statistic. A 0.91 proportion of agreement consensus was documented among the three assessors. A test of hypothetical value was conducted using the nonparametric Wilcoxon-signed-rank Test. Interpretation of the Wilcoxon-signed-rank Test results suggest that the sample population demonstrated proficient planning abilities for the four targeted Maryland State STEM SOP.

Findings from this research add to the field's knowledge of elements in the promotion of graduate coursework that leads to elementary in-service teachers' proficiency in planning STEM-centric lessons, however the findings also have broader implications for teacher education at large. The McDaniel College ESIL model could frame K-12 teacher education for both pre-service and in-service teachers. The pragmatic, hybrid experience maximizes flexibility, promotes analytical thinking and self-reflection and builds communication skills. The introduction and development of inquiry and design-based learning through the 7E Learning Cycle develops the teachers' understanding of practices promoted not only within the Maryland State STEM SOP, but also within the Next Generation Science Standards. The McDaniel College ESIL model also builds upon the collective efforts of academia, a non-profit STEM research facility, and local school divisions to align efforts that may lead to transformational changes for education. Essential ingredients for systemic change are embedded within the McDaniel ESIL model.

Elementary Education, STEM Education, Instructional Leader, Lesson Planning, STEM-centric Lessons, Professional Development, Professional Learning Experiences, Inquiry, Teacher Cohort Model